Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Andy Rooney

Now that he’s retired, how do I become Andy Rooney? Can this be sort of like the possible Tibetan solution to the absence of the Panchen Lama, wherein a person who is still alive personally identifies his own living reincarnation? With his lifetime in broadcasting and thirty-three years of low-key ranting on 60 Minutes, I think Rooney’s presence is too ingrained in American media for it to be lost to something as trivial as a man’s retirement. I think Andy Rooney should be like the news media’s version of James Bond or Batman, in that a new individual should just periodically take on the personality. And I think I’m just the man to start the trend.

I imagine that a lot of people don't believe that the role being vacated by Andy Rooney could be filled by anyone who’s less than eighty years old. I would like to prove those people wrong by going on the air and showing myself to be the most curmudgeonly twenty-six year-old they ever will see. I find it inspiring to know that a man was able to make a high-profile career or picking apart the minutiae of daily life and modern society. I want there to be another Andy Rooney because I want to know that there is still a place for that kind of analysis and criticism.

That kind of overthinking about things that most people pay no attention to is exactly the kind of thing I do day after day, and I almost never make any money off of it. On Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me, Tom Bodett joked that the producers of 60 Minutes might have just always had a camera filming Rooney’s office and searched the footage each week for the content that they wanted to use. I’ll wear a wire, and when someone picks up the sound of me taking umbrage with modern technology, lost social mores, current trends, or what have you, they can alert me with a remote buzzer that they want the content to fill the last minute of a television program, and I’ll turn it into an essay.

It’s a silly thing to be famous for, and Andy Rooney was the butt of many jokes, but I genuinely appreciate the impulse to look with a critical eye on the sort of things that most people take for granted. I think that within a society that tends to charge forward into rapid changes without thought of loss or consequence, we needed voices like his to hold up a mirror to ordinary things so that people can have a closer look at them even if it is just as they are running by at full speed. I am very much trying to apply that model to my own life. I am always trying to make people around me understand that all these little things are not just what they are, that there is something to be learned from everything. It is a personal characteristic that makes it sort of difficult to relate to people in a straightforward way, and I’m sure it makes me the butt of jokes.

I’d be as different from him as the latest James Bond is from the first, but the core concept would be the same. I’d be more focused in my presentation, maybe a bit more ideological, and more prone to calling others to action. But still, I’m confident that I could enter into the public spotlight with work that, by its bizarre de-trivializing of trivial subjects, would call to mind some of Rooney’s early television essays, which included topics like doors, bridges, hotels, women, and chairs. So if anyone wants to put me in touch with CBS, maybe I could find my calling in life.

No comments: